Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, March 28, 2020

New category in ICJL evaluation names sleeping judge and others to 'Behaving Badly' list


By Ann Maher | Oct 31, 2018


"Judges Behaving Badly" is a new category being used by the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) to assess judges seeking retention in next week's general election.

One who fell asleep during a murder trial, one accused of retaliating against female court employees who made sexual harassment claims, and one who allegedly lied about her residence on a mortgage application made the bad list. The good news for voters in the Third and Twentieth Judicial Circuits who will cast "yes" or "no" retention votes - none of your local judges made the list.

ICJL president John Pastuovic said in a release that judicial ratings "reveal that a good number of judges have earned the voters’ trust and deserve to be retained in November...That good news, however, is mitigated by three judges who are recommended for 'no' retention."

Overstreet 'highly recommended' by ICJL.

The ICJL advocates for reform of what it perceives as too many lawsuits - particularly in Madison, St. Clair and Cook counties. Its coalition of supporters include taxpayers, consumers, small businesses, lawyers, doctors, local governments, big businesses, not-for-profit organizations and individual citizens.

In evaluating area judges seeking retention, the ICJL endorses retention for Third Circuit judges Dave Hylla, chief judge, and Madison County Circuit Judge Kyle Napp.

In the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, the ICJL endorses Circuit Judge Daniel Emge, who presides in Washington County. The ICJL does not take a position on St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson and Circuit Judge Zina Cruse, who has been targeted for ouster.

As for contests over vacancies, in the Third Judicial Circuit the ICJL highly recommends Republican David Dugan, who serves by appointment as circuit judge in Madison County, over Collinsville attorney Marc Parker, Democrat, to fill the vacancy of John Barberis, elected appellate court justice in 2016.

For the vacancy being created by the upcoming retirement of Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder, the ICJL highly recommends Democrat Sarah Smith, a sitting associate judge, over Edwardsville attorney Mark Rabe, Republican. 

In contested races in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, the ICJL highly recommends O'Fallon attorney Paul Evans, Republican, and gives a recommended rating to his opponent John O'Gara, Democrat, a sitting associate judge. They seek to fill the vacancy of Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot who is retiring in December.

The ICJL recommends Heinz Rudolf, Democrat, a sitting associate judge, and takes no position on attorney Katherine Ruocco, Republican, who did not submit answers to the ICJL questionnaire. They seek to fill the vacancy of Circuit Judge Jan Fiss, who is retiring in December. 

For the contest to fill the vacancy of Robert LeChien, who died in August 2017, the ICJL takes no position on candidates Chris Kolker, Democrat and sitting associate judge, and rival, Belleville attorney Laninya Cason, Republican. Neither candidate answered the ICJL's questionnaire. 

In the Fifth District Appellate Court race between appointed Justice David Overstreet, a Republican, and Belleville lawyer Kevin Hoerner, a Democrat, the ICJL highly recommends Overstreet.

The following "behaving badly" judges were singled out by the ICJL for "no" votes on retention:

Whiteside County Circuit Judge Jeffrey O'Connor, 69, who in 2014, fell asleep where the accused was charged with murdering four people.

While a jury later convicted the defendant of the slayings, according to the ICJL, the defendant sought a new trial based on the judge’s nap. In fact, the defense team said the judge repeatedly fell asleep during the murder trial. In 2017, a divided appellate court panel rejected the request for a new trial on the grounds that the judge was not dozing through crucial evidence or motions.

"The fact remains that Judge O’Conner’s actions embarrassed the court and gave the defendant an opportunity to an appeal he should never have had," Pastuovic stated.

DuPage County Circuit Judge Patrick O'Shea, according to an Oct. 25 complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Board, attempted to retaliate against two female court employees who made substantiated claims of sexual harassment against him.

"Additionally, Judge O’Shea remains on administrative duties after he was acquitted of reckless conduct charges by a Kane County judge, who found that O’Shea, 'accidentally fired a bullet from his revolver through his wall and into a neighbor's apartment, but that his actions did not meet reckless conduct requirements because his neighbors were not home and, therefore, not in danger,'" according to the ICJL. Since then, O’Shea has sought to have the records of the case expunged.

Cook County Municipal District 3 Circuit Judge Beatriz Santiago was censured by the Illinois Courts Commission in 2016 for knowlingly deceiving her mortgage lender about where she lived, according to the ICJL.

Chicago media outlets caught her claiming residence at her parent’s house for purposes of running in a Cook County subcircuit while subsequently claiming the mortgaged house as her primary residence. The Illinois Courts Commission unanimously concluded that “one could reasonably characterize her actions as reckless,” the ICJL notes in its release.

The ICJL also encourages voters in the 13th Subcircuit of Cook County to not support Shannon P. O'Malley - formerly known as Phillip Spiwak.

"Former Will County Republican judicial candidate Shannon P. O’Malley, a Schaumburg attorney formerly known as Phillip Spiwak, won the Primary Election and is on the November ballot running as a Democrat in the Thirteenth Subcircuit," the ICJL points out.

“In a blatant attempt to improve his electoral prospects, O’Malley is deceiving voters by changing his party affiliation and his perceived ethnic origin,” said Pastuovic. “In our opinion, his cynical attempt to game the electoral process disqualifies him for any office, particularly that of judge."

The ICJL considers its judicial evaluations to be the most comprehensive source of information about judges and judicial candidates in Illinois in 2018.

Its complete ratings for judges and judicial candidates are as follows:

Appellate Court

Fourth District – Pope Vacancy:Thomas Harris, Jr. (R) – Highly Recommended

Fifth District – Goldenhersh Vacancy:David Overstreet (R) – Highly Recommended

For Downstate Circuit Judge

1st Circuit (Circuitwide):Amanda Byassee Gott (R) – Recommended

1st Circuit (Circuitwide):John Sanders (R) – Recommended

3rd Circuit (Circuitwide):Sarah Smith (D) – Highly Recommended

3rd Circuit (Madison):David Dugan (R) – Highly Recommended

6th Circuit (Moultrie County):Jeremy Richey (R) – Recommended

12th Circuit (Circuitwide):Vincent Cornelius (D) – Recommended

12th Circuit (Circuitwide):Ben Braun (R) – Recommended

18th Circuit (Circuitwide):Linda Davenport (D) – Recommended

18th Circuit (Circuitwide):Jeff MacKay (R) – Highly Recommended

20th Circuit (Circuitwide):Heinz Rudolf (D) – Recommended

20th Circuit (Circuitwide):John O’Gara (D) –Recommended

20th Circuit (Circuitwide): Paul Evans (R) – Highly Recommended

22th Circuit (1st Subcircuit):Tiffany Davis (R) – Recommended

For Cook County Subcircuit Judge

O’Neill Burke Vacancy–10th Subcircuit: Stephanie Saltouros (D) – Recommended

Crane Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Ketki “Kay” Steffen (D) – Recommended

Lawrence Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Daniel Fitzgerald (R) – Highly Recommended

Lawrence Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Shannon O’Malley (D) – NOT Recommended

O’Donnell Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Christine Svenson (R) – Recommended

For Retention – Supreme & Appellate

Supreme Court (Cook County): Anne Burke – YES to Retain

Appellate Court (Cook County): Margaret Stanton McBride – No Position

Appellate Court (2nd District): Robert McLaren – No Position

For Retention – Downstate

First Circuit:Brad Bleyer – YES to Retain

Mark Boie – YES to Retain

Second Circuit:Eric Dirnbeck – YES to Retain

T. Scott Webb – YES to Retain

Christopher Weber – YES to Retain

Jo Beth Weber – YES to Retain

Third Circuit:Dave Hylla – YES to Retain

Kyle Napp – YES to Retain

Fourth Circuit:Daniel Hartigan – YES to Retain

Kimberly Koester – YES to Retain

Fifth Circuit:Brien O’Brien – YES to Retain

Tenth Circuit:Paul Gilfillan – No Position

Kate Gorman – YES to Retain

Eleventh Circuit: Paul Lawrence – No Position

Rebecca Simmons-Foley – YES to Retain

Thirteenth Circuit:Troy Holland – YES on Retention

Fourteenth Circuit: Jeffrey O’Connor – NO on Retention

Mark VandeWiele – YES to Retain

Sixteenth Circuit: Donald Hudson – YES to Retain

Seventeenth Circuit: Brendan Maher – YES to Retain

Eighteenth Circuit: Patrick O’Shea – NO on Retention

Twentieth Circuit: Zina Cruse – No Position

Daniel Emge – YES on Retention

Andrew Gleeson – No Position

For Retention – Cook County

Cook (Chancery Division): Moshe Jacobius – YES on Retention

Cook (Juvenile Justice Division): Stuart Lubin – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – Rolling Meadows): Martin Agran – YES on Retention

Cook (Law Division): Ronald Bartkowicz – YES on Retention

Cook (Law Division): James Varga – YES on Retention

Cook (Law Division): Marcia Maras – YES on Retention

Cook (Criminal Division): Maura Slattery Boyle – No Position

Cook (Municipal – District 5): Joan O’Brien – YES on Retention

Cook (Juvenile Justice Division): Colleen Sheehan – YES on Retention

Cook (Chancery Division): Daniel Brennan – YES on Retention

Cook (Domestic Relations Division): Grace Dickler – YES on Retention

Cook (Domestic Relations Division): Ellen Flannigan – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – District 3): Jill Marisie – YES on Retention

Cook (Criminal Division): Mike McHale – No Position

Cook (Municipal – District 5): Thomas Murphy – YES on Retention

Cook (Domestic Relations Division): Mary Roberts – YES on Retention

Cook (Chancery Division): Celia Gamrath – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – District 6): Tommy Brewer – YES on Retention

Cook (Chancery Division): Thomas Allen – YES on Retention

Cook (Criminal Division): Erica Reddick – YES on Retention

Cook (Probate Division): Aicha MacCarthy – YES on Retention

Cook (Domestic Relations Division): Lionel Jean-Baptiste – YES on Retention

Cook (Domestic Relations Division): Regina Scannicchio – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – District 1 – Traffic): Diann Marsalek – YES on Retention

Cook (Law Division): Larry Axelrood – No Position

Cook (Municipal – Division 6): Carl Boyd – YES on Retention

Cook (Probate Division): Daniel Degnan – YES on Retention

Cook (Law Division): John Ehrlich – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – Division 5): Elizabeth Hayes – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – Division 3): Martin Kelley – YES on Retention

Cook (Child Protection Division): Kimberly Lewis – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal–Division 1 – Felony): Edward Maloney – YES on Retention

Cook (Chancery Division): Lisa Marino – No Position

Cook (Juvenile Justice Division): Cynthia Ramirez – YES on Retention

Cook (Municipal – District 3): Beatriz Santiago – NO on Retention

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Organizations in this Story

Illinois Twentieth Judicial Circuit CourtMadison CountyIllinois Civil Justice League